Speaking on Monday at a special conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War at the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem, former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon said that since the 1967 war the State of Israel has not faced an existential threat: “The ‘watershed’ of the existential threat to the State of Israel was the Six-Day War, and since then, this threat has faded away,” Ya’alon said, stressing that “there is no longer an Arab coalition poised against us.”
The conference, titled “The War that Changed the Face of the State and the Middle East,” was sponsored by INSS, Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.
Ya’alon clearly defines victory as a partial containment, when, day and day out, the IDF is blocking Hamas and other terror groups from carrying out harmful attacks. The inherent philosophy of the Iron Dome anti-missile system matches Ya’alon’s inherent philosophy of risking life and treasure not to defeat and eliminate, but to catch and release the enemy.
The former Defense Minister declared at the conference: “In the past, I defined today’s winning as gaining the ability to impose a cease-fire on the other side according to our terms … When we look at victory in this respect, it has been three years since [the 2014] Operation Protective Edge, and Hamas is yet to fire a single rocket at us.”
Of course, everybody else and their uncle from their fourth wife has shot rockets at israeli civilian centers across the border, just not Hamas.
Ya’alon argued that in the five decades since the war, the State of Israel in general and the IDF in particular have succeeded in opening a qualitative gap to deal with the conventional threats posed by the Jewish State’s Arab neighbors. “The Arab countries can no longer conquer the State of Israel,” Ya’alon said, explaining that “the threats we face today are non-conventional, such as the Iranian nuclear threat and the firing of rockets into Israeli territory.”
And while the rockets from Gaza are more an emotional than a critical, military threat against Israeli civilians, in Ya’alon’s opinion the Iranian nuclear threat has actually acted like a boomerang against the Ayatollahs. He referred to the news Monday morning that leading Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over the emirate’s support for terrorism. “Today we see what the Arab states are doing to Qatar, treating it as a rogue state, both over its relations with Iran and in its supporting, operating and inciting terrorism,” Ya’alon pointed out.
“Beyond the fact that this means that there is no Arab coalition, certainly not against us, the development that has taken place in the Middle East in recent years has led to rendering the very term ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’ irrelevant,” Ya’alon suggested.
“We and the Arabs, the same Arabs who organized in a coalition in the Six-Day War to try to destroy the Jewish state, today find themselves in the same boat with us … The Sunni Arab countries, apart from Qatar, are largely in the same boat with us since we all see a nuclear Iran as the number one threat against all of us,” Ya’alon explained.
Ya’alon discouraged seeking today the same overwhelming victory Israel had during the Six-Day War. “I contend that there is a conceptual mistake here, because when we wage war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza or against suicide terrorism, we can’t expect to achieve a decisive victory outcome,” he said, adding, “The concept of victory when facing the type of threats we are dealing with today is different.”